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Saṅkha Jātaka (No.442)

1. Saṅkha Jātaka (No.442).– The Bodhisatta was once born in Molinīnagara (Bārāṇasī) as a very rich brahmin, named Saṅkha. He spent six thousand daily on almsgiving. He had a ship built, equipped and prepared to sail for Suvaṇṇabhūmi. A Pacceka Buddha, seeing him with his divine-eye, and foreseeing the danger in store for him, appeared before him on the way to the seaport. Saṅkha paid him all honour and presented him with his shoes and umbrella.

Saṅkha’s ship sprang a leak on the seventh day. Taking with him one companion, he dived overboard and swam in the direction of Molinī. He swam thus for seven days, until Maṇimekhalā, seeing his plight, came to his rescue and offered him food. However, this he refused, as he was keeping the fast. The goddess told him that his purity in worshipping the Pacceka Buddha had been the cause of her coming to his aid and offered him a boon. He chose to be sent back to Molinī. The goddess provided him with a ship full of treasure, and he returned safely to Molinī with his attendant.

The story was related by way of thanks to a pious layman of Sāvatthi, who, having entertained the Buddha and his monks for seven days, presented shoes to the Buddha and to the members of his Order.

Ānanda is identified with Saṅkha’s attendant and Uppalavaṇṇā with Maṇimekhalā (J.iv.15‑22). The story is also called the Saṅkhabrāhmaṇa Jātaka. e.g., ibid., 120.

2. Saṅkha Jātaka.– The Bodhisatta, named Saṅkha, was once born as a brahmin in Takkasilā and had a son, Susīma. When Susīma was about sixteen, he took leave of his father and went to Bārāṇasī to study the Vedas. His teacher, who was a friend of his father’s, taught him all he knew, and then Susīma went to Isipatana, where lived some Pacceka Buddhas. He entered the Order under them, attained Arahantship, and died while yet young. Having heard no news of his son for some time, Saṅkha was alarmed and went to Bārāṇasī in search of him. There, after enquiry, he heard of his son’s death as a Pacceka Buddha, and was shown the shrine erected in his memory. Saṅkha weeded the grass round the shrine, sprinkled sand, watered it, scattered wild flowers round it, and raised aloft his robe as banner over it. He then planted his parasol over the top and departed.

The Buddha related the story to the monks at Rājagaha, after his return from Vesāli, to explain the unparalleled honours he had received during the journey. Because he had uprooted the grass round Susīma’s shrine, a road of eight leagues was prepared for him to journey comfortably; because he had spread sand, his route was also so spread; because he had scattered flowers, his route was covered with flowers; because he had sprinkled water, there was a shower in Vesāli on his arrival; because he had raised a banner and set up a parasol, the whole world-system (cakkavāḷa) was gay with flags and parasols. DhA.iii.445 f; KhpA.198 f. The story is not given in the Jātakaṭṭhakatha.

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